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Hyundai Motor plans to add hybrids to US plant within current investment -exec

Published 2024/05/08, 15:46
Updated 2024/05/08, 15:49
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Hyundai Motor is seen on a car displayed at a Hyundai dealership in Seoul, September 1, 2011.  REUTERS/Truth Leem/File Photo

By Heekyong Yang

SEOUL (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Co plans to use the investment it has already lined up for the United States to produce hybrid vehicles at its electric vehicle (EV) plant there.

The world's No.3 automaker by sales together with affiliate Kia Corp, aims to use investment in its EV and battery manufacturing facilities in Georgia to produce hybrid cars, Hyundai Motor's global Chief Operating Officer Jose Munoz told a business conference hosted by the Financial Times on Wednesday.

"I think we can handle (that) within the current investment more or less .... It is already a lot," said Munoz.

South Korea's Hyundai Motor Group, which houses Hyundai Motor and Kia, said it would invest $12.6 billion for new dedicated EV and battery manufacturing facilities in Georgia - its largest investment outside South Korea.

Munoz's comments come after the automaker said last month it planned to add equipment to build hybrid vehicles at the Georgia plant, which is set to start production in the second half of this year.

"Now we are at this pivotal point where we can decide if we're going to go full electric or if we should go for something else. My vote here is that we should go for something else in addition to electric," said Munoz, when asked about Hyundai's decision to add hybrids to the plant.

Automakers and suppliers are adding capacity to build gasoline-electric hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles for the U.S. market, responding to increased consumer demand for technology that General Motors (NYSE:GM) and other automakers once planned to phase out in favor of all-electric fleets.

Last month, Reuters reported that Hyundai Motor Group planned to launch its first hybrid cars in India as early as 2026.

In the first quarter, Hyundai's sales of hybrid vehicles jumped 17% globally, underscoring consumers' growing interest in vehicles that are often more affordable than pure EVs.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The logo of Hyundai Motor is seen on a car displayed at a Hyundai dealership in Seoul, September 1, 2011.  REUTERS/Truth Leem/File Photo

Munoz said Hyundai Motor would prepare for "different scenarios", when asked about the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act - which requires vehicles to be assembled in North America to qualify for EV tax credits - and the potential impact of the upcoming U.S. presidential election on the law.

He added the company, the No.2 EV seller in the United States after Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA), was closing the EV sales gap on its U.S. rival, despite being still "far away".

"In October later this year and (if) we qualify (for U.S. EV tax credits), then we are going to be able to fight a head to head in the same conditions as our competitors," said Munoz.

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